This is the period, generally starting in the late forties, when the ovaries are winding back, heading towards menopause. Cycles may become irregular with either too long or too short an interval between periods. In some months ovulation may not happen so no progesterone is released. In these cycles unopposed oestrogen can cause painful, heavy periods, more severe PMT, breast tenderness, and possibly fibroids.
It is really important at this stage to monitor iron status. The anaemia and fatigue from heavy periods can be very debilitating. It is also important to start managing adrenal function well. The adrenal glands increase output as ovarian function wanes. Managing stress, keeping a sense of equilibrium, is very important now. There are many appropriate herbal medicines and nutritional supplements that improve these issues.
In severe cases, if symptoms are left unmanaged, you may be recommended to have a hysterectomy. It is better to avoid this if at all possible because the problems will cease once you reach menopause and, if you do have a hysterectomy, there is always the risk of bladder prolapse down the track. It is definitely preferable to try to manage your symptoms with natural remedies if you can.
Our culture has a fairly warped attitude to this stage if life. It is not a disease; it is just another period of transition through which we may pass with relative ease or difficulty. It is a time of accelerated adrenal activity as the adrenal glands pump out more adrenalin, cortisol and androgens in response to dwindling oestrogen production from the ovaries. So we can feel a bit more wound up, anxious, have hot flushes, insomnia and night sweats in response to these surges of “fight and flight” hormones. Because cortisol levels elevate at this stage we are more susceptible to developing auto-immune conditions, more aches and pains. Weight gain, especially around the middle, foggy thinking and general dryness may develop.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are some beautifully restorative adrenal herbal medicines. It’s time to be more self-nurturing, to gentle down a bit; time for good diet, regular exercise, and lifestyle strategies that take the pressure off.
I have been coming to see Cath for the last five months in an attempt to save my uterus from being removed. Not only has my cycle returned to normal, but overall I feel really good and healthy.